Eyes adjusted to the sunlight, the three adventurers were yet to make a decision regarding their travels.
‘The Fall will no doubt be raiding each tower at a time. There are often no more than seven or eight men inside the tower itself, and sometimes four or five guarding the outside,’ Murdul explained.
‘Why are they so thinly spread?’ asked Jonrah.
‘They do not have enough men,’ answered Lorda, in what was more of a guess than actual knowledge. ‘Their numbers are not enough to both control the East and invade the West at the same time.’
‘Yes,’ confirmed Murdul. ‘But they are still dangerous. Despite their low numbers, they are relatively mythical to most Western kingdoms, which are as of yet unaware of the threat they pose. By the time the West realise that their existence is more than that of legend, it will be too late.’
‘What are The Fall doing to prevent the invasions?’ asked Jonrah, curious as to the fate of his lands.
The three men were sat in the shade of the tower, which cast a long shadow in the early morning light. Ahead of them lay the forest, which curled around from the west to the east, and to the right lay the rest of the towers.
Murdul was yet to answer Jonrah’s question.
‘What are you planning to do?’ Jonrah repeated.
Another pause, and Murdul looked Jonrah in the eyes.
‘We have no desire as of yet to save the West. Our own people are our key priority. We will not risk our lives to save the lives of those who would attack and destroy us given the chance.’ Murdul broke eye contact with Jonrah, who looked absolutely crestfallen.
Lorda too joined his father in a look of disappointment and shame. Looking down to the dirt, he felt his face redden with anger toward himself as he realised that the land that had been so good to him was in mortal danger, and his own people were neglecting it.
Jonrah saw the look on Lorda’s face. ‘You knew. Didn’t you?’
Lorda slowly nodded.
‘So The Fall were just going to save their own skins then leave well-enough alone?! You cannot choose to condemn us to death based on the attack of one single kingdom! King Grans has been selfish and cruel to all he felt he could take advantage of, but don’t judge the entire West based on his actions!’
‘We are not,’ Murdul assured Jonrah as much as himself. ‘But we are not numbers enough to spread ourselves between the East and the West. Cut off the head and the snake will die. If we destroy The Eden at the source, then we can prevent them from damaging anybody, East or West!’
‘By the time you have saved the East, the West will have been burnt to the ground. You cannot doom us to this fate… You cannot…’
All three men sat slumped, staring down morosely at the ground.
There was a terrible silence for what seemed like an eternity as the father and son kept their heads shamefully down, and Jonrah walked around the tower, watching the sun rise.
Leaning his back against the tower, he sunk to a crouch and let tears freely stream down his face.
He was torn. He lay between his son and his people. Any loyal father would chose his son, but any loyal Westerner would chose his lands.
Why would Gurden take him? What use would a young boy be to The Eden?
Jonrah found it impossibly hard to believe that his son was still alive, but he did not want to give up hope, for he did not want to lose both his wife and child to the darkness of The Eden that was blanketing Crensun. If it was not stopped, it could shroud the entire World in its dictatorship.
I do not want to be controlled by these bastards…
I do not want to lose my only son. My darling son…
The dilemma he found himself in made Jonrah want to rip his own hair out just to take his mind off it. But no matter what he did, he knew that his decision would not be made any easier.
He got to his feet, hysterical, crying, pacing back and forth.
He let out a violent curse, screaming at the top of his voice. He punched the wall of the tower, ignoring the pain that would make a normal man cry like a young girl. He was already crying. He was already hurting.
Jonrah watched the blood drawn trickle down the base of the tower, mixing with the earth at his feet. This same blood pumped through his son’s veins.
Their blood was the same, as were their destinies.